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REVISED LABOR LAW COMPLETE

THE former Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) undersecretary has submitted the proposed amendment to the 47-yearold Labor Code of the Philippines to benefit both labor and management.

Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez said the Philippines is a democratic country. However, the labor system was in a form of a presidential decree issued by the late dictator.

Jimenez, a former vice president on human relations of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and Pepsi Cola, said that because we are in a pandemic, the workers need democratic rules and regulations.

Jimenez, also a law professor, said that there should be an independent system of running a private company since under the present situation, the management’s hands are tied because the labor code is a dictatorial system.

Jimenez said that while he respects all the Cebuano members of Congress, none of them specializes in labor laws. The Cebuano congressmen and congresswoman do not know the philosophy and reality in labor.

“We have no more labor experts in Cebu. Atty. Democrito Mendoza and Seno brothers (of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines) already passed away,” Jimenez said.

He said that the congressman in Baguio City who is an expert on labor law has hired him as consultant in the House of Representatives to pass a new labor code.

As a result, Jimenez who studied labor laws, made the draft labor law which is now a bill filed in the Lower House.

Records showed that in 1974, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos ruled the country under Martial Law. Jimenez, a new lawyer at that time, was hired by then Labor Minister Blas Ople of the Ministry of Labor to help him in constructing the labor code.

Ople knew that Jimenez studied law at the University of the Visayas as a work ing student and finished the course as magna cum laude.

“I have contributed something to the existing labor code. But this law is only effective during Martial Law. This law was made 47 years ago. We need to have a new labor code,” Jimenez said.

He added that due to the pandemic, millions of workers lost jobs because several companies cannot anymore operate. Their families are economically suffering.

The tourism industry is affected. Several hotels are closed. Shangri-la has closed. The Nissan and Ford auto-manufacturing firms have closed and transferred to other country.

Jimenez said that foreign firms are transferring to other countries because while the workers are peacefully performing their jobs, inspectors of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) conducted raids even on small firms and penalized them for labor violations in the amount of P300,000 and above.

“Even if a small factory has employed about 20 employees, they just closed to avoid DOLE harassment. Instead of helping the small companies as they are paying taxes and salaries, they are being harassed based on the labor code. So, we will amend the labor code,” Jimenez said.

He said he pity his friend, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III due to several problems not only in the domestic front but also the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are coming to him by thousands because of pandemic.

He added that when OFWs arrived, they went straight to the hotels for 14- day quarantine paid by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

“Bello has no more time to improve the labor code. So, I have to make it as a labor consultant in the House of Representatives,” Jiminez said.

He said that House Speaker Lord Alan Velasco received his draft appointment paper, he (Velasco) recognized him as his former law professor at the University of Sto. Tomas and he immediately approved it.

Jimenez said that he focused on rewriting the labor code since January 2021 until his birthday last March 19 and has submitted it to the congressman who chaired the Committee on Law.

He said the House Committee on Labor will put that for deliberation and public hearing.

One change in the labor code is to stop the brain drain where intelligent Filipino workers are going abroad.

“We want to think what the needs are of the Filipino workers to convince them to stay here, and only the excess work force shall be sent to other countries,” Jiminez said.